Cisco has announced the convergence of Cisco Spark ™ and Webex platforms. The result is a new Webex Meetings application for meetings and a new seamless team collaboration application called Webex Teams (formerly Cisco Spark). Cisco is putting their award-winning video devices into this newly converged platform adding a new hardware device that turns any work space with a television (TV) set into a Webex room. Cisco is making everything easier to buy and continuing to apply machine learning and artificial intelligence that will dramatically improve meetings, as we know them today.
Launch of an all-new version of Webex meetings
The first thing one notices about the new Webex Meetings is that it is “video first.” That means consumers will be strongly encouraged to turn on their camera. Gone are the days when consumers stared at the screen and the only thing they could view was the presentation. Now, they will see all their teammates, in crisp, clean layouts whether they are using their laptop, Cisco video room device or mobile device. The update of the new version of Webex shall take place over the next few months.
New version of Cisco Spark with a new name
Cisco will make it simple for Webex users to take the next step to team collaboration. The goal has always been to make Cisco Spark the simplest, most secure team collaboration tool on the planet. The new version of Cisco Spark is now Webex Teams. When companies are ready to make their move to team collaboration, they can do so with Webex. All they need to do is add the Teams extension to start using team-based persistent collaboration.
This new version has completely integrated the technology across the applications for rich Webex meeting functionality in Teams meetings, and a common experience no matter the one an individual chooses. Webex Teams has more tools including white boarding, persistent messaging, simple guest access, content sharing and integrated tools—to support teams, during and after the meeting.
A device that turns any space with a TV into a Webex room
Webex Share™ is a low-cost, super-simple way for teams to share content on the big screen in the space. One needs to simply plug the palm-sized adapter into the back of the TV. The he or she will pair with the system and start sharing his or her document or screen. Once done with that, individuals should keep the work going in Webex Teams space. With Webex Share, teams will be able to easily reserve rooms or know when they are already booked among other benefits. Webex Share will be available for Webex Meetings and Teams towards the end of 2018.
New road map
Cisco wants customers to be free to choose whichever tool is right for them. For instance, they can choose whether to use Webex for meetings or Microsoft for team collaboration. This is possible with the new Webex. Among others, Cisco works with Google and Slack.
Buying great tools for your team made easy
The Cisco Collaboration Flex Plan allows companies to pay a subscription fee for each active user and with Webex Meetings. With the new development, up to 1,000 people can join and Cisco has added more storage, advanced security and analytics capabilities.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
In November last year, Cisco announced plans to use AI to make meetings better. To date, the company has build upon that in two ways:
Webex Assistant™ (formerly Cisco Spark Assistant) will be available on more devices and with more functionality. Cisco will continue to inject AI into every meeting, call, conversation and interaction the customer makes. Based on technology from Cisco acquired MindMeld, Webex Assistant will start showing over the next couple of months in all the company’s cloud-connected Webex room kit and room series devices.
Noise suppression saves the call. The loud typist, the barking dog and the side conversation exemplify a few disruptions of meetings. But not anymore. All Cisco cloud-connected and on-premise video devices can now suppress disruptive noises. This means the next time someone starts shuffling papers loudly on a call, the system will automatically turn the volume down to an extent that the sound no longer interrupts the conversation. By the same token, when the paper shuffler chimes in with a comment, the system will “know” that and automatically stop suppressing the sound. That is good news to the user.
“Everything we do is designed with people in mind—to help them work, collaborate and create together. That’s why we have invested so much in Webex,” says Rowan Trollope, SVP and GM, Applications Group, Cisco. “Our vision is to bring this amazing experience to a billion users and conference rooms all around the world.”